Legion post commander pleased with renovations

JULIE LANE PHOTO | The American Legion post in Southold.

Less than a year ago, Cmdr. Earl Brock of Southold’s Griswold-Terry-Glover American Legion Post 803 challenged his fellow Legionnaires and the community to begin renovations on the 160-year-old building.

Since then, the roof has been reshingled, damaged exterior shingles replaced and a fresh coat of paint applied.

There’s still work ahead, but a pleased commander showed off the progress Tuesday, saying, “The outside dressed up pretty decently.”

He acknowledged a generous donation from Southold Girl Scouts, which he said would be put to work in repairing the parking lot.

Members of Troops 1983 and 1205 and Daisy Troop 94, along with former scout leader Tracey Orlando and her daughter, Julia, have raised about $2,000 to help the Legion over the past year. The scouts collected flip tops from soda cans, which they redeemed for cash, and sponsored a movie night and an ice cream social. Ms. Orlando and her daughter raffled off baseball tickets.

Mr. Brock estimates that the post has spent between $15,000 and $18,000 on the exterior work.

The next steps are fixing the parking lot and installing new air conditioning units.

“We’ve got to do it as Band-Aids right now,” Mr. Brock said of the parking lot. “We don’t have $60,000 to do it right.” Last year, he said, the lot was “starting to be a safety issue,” with potholes in the blacktop. He had hoped Hampton Jitney, which had used the lot as a turnaround site, might contribute, but that didn’t happen. Paving alone will run $8,000 to $12,000, he said.

As for the air conditioning, the unit in the building has long since outlived its usefulness, and he’ll need an estimated $7,000 to $9,000 to replace it, he said.

Then the foyer needs to be spruced up and updated, Mr. Brock said. He’s hoping that work will begin this fall.

“I thought I’d be a lot further along,” he said about the renovation project. “We’re going to work our way through the rest of the building,” he said. “But there’s time for that now” that critical issues of roofing and siding have been dealt with and the parking lot work is slated to start in September.

Asked about income from post activities, Mr. Brock said the recessionary economy is still taking a toll.

The post used to get more than 50 people for its Tuesday BINGO games. That number has declined to 35 to 40, he said. People don’t have the income to play, he said.

Rental of the hall is always down in the summer, when people opt for vineyard venues, he said. But he’s hoping the pace will pick up in September and October.

The $40 membership dues don’t help much, since most of that income goes to the Legion’s district, county, state and national organizations, Mr. Brock said. What’s left in the local till pays for distribution of the post newsletter, he said.

Still, he’s optimistic that work will continue and hopes the improved exterior will help to attract contributors as they see proof of what the money has accomplished to date.

Anyone interested in contributing to the renovations can send checks to American Legion Post 803, P.O. Box 591, Southold, NY 11971. Checks should be made payable to American Legion Post 803.

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